Shadow Warrior

3.5 stars

Duke Nukem goes to China

by Misha Sakellaropoulo

      It certainly has been a spectacular year for the Macintosh gamer with plenty of great hits and many more on their way. Shadow Warrior, another PC port produced by MacSoft, is the latest PC-hit offering for the MacOS. Based on a slightly modified, graphically-impaired 3D Realmz Duke engine, Shadow Warrior is similar to Duke in many ways, but is this really what we want?

     Heart, anyone?Lo Wang stars as the Shadow Warrior, Duke Nukem's Chinese counterpart, and like his US butt-kicker, Lo Wang uses plenty of funky weapons while yelling out even more objectionable, obscene, and stereotypical insults than Mr. Nukem.

     As is obvious by the location, Shadow Warrior doesn't feature those Manhattan sky rises and filthy sewers that Duke Nukem did. Instead, battles are waged in typical oriental settings which includes plenty of statues, large gongs, small trees and the classic looking Chinese structures. But the Chinese nature of the game doesn't stop there; in fact, every level is adorned with stereotypical items and actions. Lo Wang catches flies with chopsticks (think Karate Kid), uses a Samurai Sword and Surikens, fights ninjas who, except for their different colored pants, look exactly the same, and even goes up against an overgrown Sumo wrestler. All of these features certainly do immerse the player and makes him/her feel like they're in a realistic setting although I'm sure some would find certain elements rather offensive.

     The levels in Shadow Warrior, all 18 of them, use the mundane and overused "find the key to open the door" philosophy. Why a nuke can't blast apart that wooden door is beyond me and the game certainly does slow down in terms of action and entertainment when you're hunting for that red key after clearing the level of all its enemies.

     That is not to say, however, that the Shadow Warrior is your typical overly violent shoot 'em up. Shadow Warrior features a very impressive environment that allows the player to interact with virtually every object. The Gongs sound when struck with anything, Lo Wang can climb up vines and ladders, virtually everything (except for the walls) can be sliced, diced, or blasted, glass shatters, grenades lend way to small fires, and if you don't like that bunny, why not kill him?

     The most impressive feature, and a truly unique and entertaining one indeed, is that Shadow Warrior allows you to use a variety of vehicles, most of which start off unusable but with a simple repair kit can once again wreak havoc. splitSpeed boats with dual machine guns, tanks with a huge cannon, fixed turrets which shoot out bullets at a dozen per second, even the forklifts are armed... and they're all at you're disposal! However, these unlimited ammo vehicles are few and far between and when you do come across one, they usually end up being confined to a limited area. Still, when you're controlling them and watching the blood splatter everywhere as you unload on your enemies, it's most entertaining.

     Because Shadow Warrior uses the same engine as Duke Nukem, it suffers from similar problems, the most noticeable of which are the graphics. Even with the computer-intensive high level of graphics turned on, everything is blocky (similar to DOS graphics), especially close up. From a distance, however, with the highest level of graphics turned on, things look relatively sharp. But after the much more spectacular release of Quake, these 2-dimensional, blocky graphics just don't cut it. The difference between blocky and sharp images, coupled with the constant bobbing of the screen as you walk also seems to cause a much more drastic side effect: headaches. Numerous people have told me of their experiences of feeling faint, light headed, or generally warm while playing Shadow Warrior (as well as Duke Nukem 3D). This problem can be overcome with frequent breaks, although it could easily be avoided if the graphics were touched up or if there was a way to turn off the "bobbing" (as there was with Dark Forces).

     When it comes to fun, the most important element of any game, Shadow Warrior surprisingly misses the mark. Despite the plethora of weapons, ranging from quad barreled shot guns to flame shooting guardian heads, Shadow Warrior leaves the player feeling unsatisfied. The witty comments that Lo Wang shouts, such as "Oh, split personality" before slicing an enemy in two or "You've been erased" which he says after killing someone with the rail gun from the movie Eraser, quickly becomes repetitive and boring.

     Shadow Warrior also lacks depth with its enemies. Multi colored ninjas make up the meat of your opposition (all using the same sprites, as mentioned before) leaving a guardian, female ninja, a TNT carrying person and its spirit, and a large and small grey dog like creature as the rest of the common enemies; and with levels that feature up to a hundred of such enemies, it certainly gets dull.

     Shadow Warrior offers some interesting perks that makes it unique from your usual shooter, but unless you've finished every other one of the amazing MacSoft ports this year, you're better of spending your money on Chinese food than destroying the country where it came from.


  • interesting weapons
  • highly interactive environment
  • useable vehicles


  • repetitive
  • blocky graphics
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      SRP: $49.99
  • MacSoft
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